First documented attack on a live human by a cookiecutter shark

Published in July 2011

First documented attack on a live human by a cookiecutter shark Squaliformes Dalatiidae Isistius

Honebrink, R., R. Buch, P. Galpin and G. H. Burgess


An adult long-distance swimmer attempting to cross the Alenuihaha Channel between the

Hawaiian islands of Hawai‘i and Maui was twice bitten by a cookiecutter shark (Squaliodea,

Dalatiidae, Isistius sp.). One of these bites presented as an open, round, concave wound typically

observed in cookiecutter shark bites inflicted by members of this genus on a broad spectrum of

large biota such as marine mammals, elasmobranchs, and bony fishes. The open wound was

debrided, subjected to negative pressure wound therapy, and a split thickness skin graft harvested

from the left thigh. Post-operative recovery was complicated by delayed healing of the inferior

portion of the graft, and cultures and biopsy were normal skin flora and normal tissue,

respectively. At six months following the incident, the area appeared to be healing with a stable

eshcar, and by nine months the wound was healed. Humans entering pelagic waters at twilight

and nighttime hours in areas of Isistius sp. occurrence should do so knowing that cookiecutter

sharks are a potential danger, particularly during periods of strong moonlight, in areas of manmade

illumination, or in the presence of bioluminescent organisms.

Pacific Science, Volume 65, Issue 3

SOURCE and PDF Download ( Early View Version )



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